A landslide caused by continuing torrential rains killed at least three people in southern Kyrgyzstan earlier this week, an emergency official told IRIN on Thursday.
"We got information that a landslide occurred on [Monday] 14 June in [southern] Batken district after continuing torrential rains and at least three men were buried by the landslide," said Emil Akmatov, spokesman for the Kyrgyz emergency ministry, in the capital Bishkek.
According to the ministry, Abdyjapar Karimov, a local resident who witnessed the incident, approached the Samarkandek unit of the Batken district police only on Wednesday evening. He reported that three shepherds, Abdibait Karimov, 66, Bayish Azimov, 38, and Satar Yunusov, 46 were driving their cattle through the Gemerjurat district, some 70 km from the main southern town of Batken when the landslide thundered down and buried them on Monday around 08:00 local time.
"The incident happened on 14 June but the witness took two days to reach and inform the authorities. It is a very mountainous area," Akmatov explained.
As of Thursday early morning, a team of 12 mountain rescue workers from the Batken unit of the emergency ministry, headed to the affected area. "When they get there we will have more detailed information," he said.
Meanwhile, in Jalal-Abad, another southern Kyrgyz province, an unstable hillside started to shift towards Shekaftar village in Chatkal district, posing an imminent threat to a small village of at least five homes. "Families living there have been evacuated," Akmatov pointed out.
The emergency official cited continuing torrential rains and frequent minor tremors as the main causes of ongoing landslide activity. "It is almost July but the landslide activity doesn't stop," he said.
The latest incident brought the number of people killed by landslides in the mountainous country over the first five and a half months of 2003 to 45, while that number stood at 39 in 2003.
Central Asian countries, especially Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, are prone to various natural disasters, including earthquakes, landslides, floods and avalanches.
IRIN, June 17, 2004